Chancellor Phillip Hammond gave his keynote speech at the Conservatives Conference in Birmingham on Monday.
Mr Hammond has predicted that the UK’s economy will grow as soon as prime minister Theresa May comes to an agreement with the EU on their future relationship post-Brexit.
He stated that the Labour Party’s policies could endanger economic growth in the UK. On the other hand however, he said that the Conservatives needed to prove themselves worthy of governing the country after Brexit.
“Let me be clear about one thing – while Labour’s answers will solve nothing, their questions deserve a response. And we must answer their challenges with our own Conservative solutions based on realism not populism, delivery not rhetoric,” he said.
He insisted that a deal based on May’s Chequers plan was still possible and that it would result in economic growth that would allow for taxes to be cut along with public services and that it could potentially lessen the national budget deficit.
He backed the prime minister’s plan and said that it was a reasonable deal as Europe would still be the UK’s biggest partner in terms of trade so due to this, a friction-free trade agreement would be needed for the EU to trade with them.
“That is why I share the prime minister’s determination to get the Chequer’s plan agreed – a plan which delivers on the decision of the British people, avoids a hard border in Ireland, preserves our precious union and safeguards British jobs and British businesses.”
He also mentioned that the Treasury’s programme for austerity would be undermined by what he deemed “populists and demagogues” amongst Labour party supporters.
Hammond stated that opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell had offered “a discredited ideology that will never solve real-world problems”. He also blamed the Labour party for being “intellectually unequipped to tackle the complex challenges of the 21st century and totally unfit to govern the country”.
After the speech, McDonnell replied back to this by stating: “The chancellor’s speech confirmed the bankrupt state of the Tory party, increasingly irrelevant and cut off from the real day-to-day life most people experience”.
“The Tories are bereft of any fresh ideas, forced to resort to a half-hearted filching of policies from others and desperately trying to revive long-outdated slogans. As the Tories sink into a pit of bitter infighting, we mustn’t allow them to take the country down with it,” he continued.
In his speech, Hammond also suggested that giant internet companies, such as Amazon and Google, would need to be taxed. “The global internet giants must contribute fairly to funding our public services,” he said.
According to Hammond, the best way to tax such companies would be to arrange a global agreement of some sort and added that:
“The time for talking is coming to an end and the stalling has to stop. If we cannot reach agreement, the UK will go it alone with a digital services tax of its own.”